This book puts the virtue in virtual reality.
This book can be summed up in one word: Fun. Or maybe exciting. Or entertaining, suspenseful, exhilarating, masterful, heartwarming? This book can be summed up with many words, all of which lead to a worthwhile read. Ernest Cline wonderfully portrays the struggles and triumphs that young people face in a way that is both futuristic and timeless. His depiction of a future where the real world is crumbling into a more and more polarized environment while the unreal world online serves as a distraction and shelter is masterfully weaved into the text with rich and relatable detail. Anyone who has spent hours in online chat rooms, video games or on social media will immediately recognize the temptations and consequences that these platforms can have.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is that it never slows down but instead builds from beginning to end with a momentum that leads the reader to continue reading. The story is like a freight train that once it has left the station never stops to let passengers off. Probably because it is a freight train that doesn't have passengers but instead is controlled by a mad conductor that continues to shovel coal into the fire faster and faster. Each chapter ends with a cliffhanger that tests the reader's self-control.
"Just one more line to see what's coming next," the reader might think and soon they find they are pages deep into a new chapter and postponing whatever they might do in the real world. The book acts as like its own Oasis distracting the reader from whatever they could be doing otherwise but in the best way possible.
This book teaches the classic lessons of how the power of friendship, money, technology, and perseverance can be used as a force for good and evil in a context that is both modern and epic. From the first person perspective of the main character Parzival we learn how to be courageous, loyal, hard-working, and imperfect. We learn how to cure loneliness with vulnerability and corruption with virtue. We also learn that as much as we want to create virtual paradises in the end what we crave is a real human connection. And a little fun along the way.
While this book is somewhat tailored to a younger, mostly male audience, I think that anyone with the thirst for adventure and intrigue will enjoy this book. It's a tale that paints with vivid three-dimensional strokes a world that is not unlike my own; frightening and beautiful. It reminds me of the youthful energy that can be forgotten with age and disillusionment. It makes me want to play video games and fall in love and compels me to join my friends to fight for something epic and worthwhile. In a word this book is Fun.